A German Requiem
Johannes Brahms


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Brahms has 8 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame — the same amount as Vaughan Williams — and this is his second highest. It peaked at number 97 in 2013, the only year it's broken into the top 100.

What is so 'German' about this requiem, then? For the answer, we need to consider the nature of religious faith in Germany at the time. Here was a country where luther had come to prominence, and where Catholicism was by no means the sole expression of Christian belief. By choosing luther as his inspiration, and describing this work overtly as A German Requiem, Brahms was expressing what it meant to be German.

A German Requiem is not primarily a Mass for the dead. Instead, it is intended as comfort for those who mourn and who feel the pain of the death of others. By the time he began writing the work in 1865, Brahms had just experienced such loss extremely personally: his mother had died that very same year.